Litigation Section

Joanna M. Jacobs,
Director and Senior Counsel
Office of Dispute Resolution, Suite 4529
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Email address: joanna.jacobs@usdoj.gov
Telephone: 202-616-9471

The Litigation Section focuses on ADR use in federal litigation across the country. The Department of Justice provides representation in cases in which a federal agency is sued and cases in which the federal government is filing a legal claim, such as the enforcement or violation of an agency regulation.

Under the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996, all of the federal agencies have the authority to develop ADR programs for resolving administrative disputes before actual litigation is commenced with the filing of a civil complaint in federal district court. The various federal agencies have settlement authority up to specified amounts to settle claims before a law suit has been filed.

After a lawsuit has been filed, the Department of Justice represents the federal agencies in court. The Department of Justice litigates in all of the 94 federal district courts throughout the country through the local United States Attorneys offices, as well as through all of the litigating components within the Department, including: Tax, Civil Rights, Civil Division, Environment and Natural Resources, and Antitrust.

Once a complaint has been filed in federal court, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 1998 requires that each federal district court develop an ADR program so that litigants have an option of settling a case with assistance of a neutral - for example, a mediator or an early neutral evaluator. In addition to court-annexed ADR programs, parties may decide to hire a private neutral for assistance in settlement negotiations. Sometimes the parties are looking for a neutral with expertise in a particular substantive area, or they are seeking a longer ADR process for an unusually complex or contentious case.

The local federal court rules relating to ADR vary from district to district. View a compendium of all of the local District Courts' rules for ADR. Additional resources can be found at Court ADR Across the United States, a compendium of court ADR resources for state and federal courts throughout the country. 

View yearly statistics about the use of ADR by the Department of Justice

Visit the ADR Resources page on the Department of Justice website.

What is the Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Working Group?

We are the central forum and resource for information about the federal government's use of ADR. We advance the use of ADR through:

  • Coordination of multi-agency initiatives
  • Promotion of best practices and programs
  • Dissemination of policy and guidance

Newsletters of the Interagency Working Group